Posts Tagged ‘Armed Forces’

Flying In A Paddle-Propelled Blimp

September 12, 2022

This comes from Tom Scott’s channel on YouTube and it’s brilliant! as the lad character always used to shout on the Fast Show. In this video, Scott goes flying with Aeroplume, a French company provides flights from human-powered blimps. These were designed twenty or so years ago by a French artist, inventor and engineer, Jean-Pierre David. The blimps are filled with helium and the human pilot is suspended underneath in a kind of horizontal harness. There are two paddles either side of them, which allow them to propel themselves around and steer the aircraft. It apparently takes a litre of helium to lift a gram of weight, so a blimp must carry 70,000 litres or so to lift a human. Antoine Sibue, Scott’s host from the company, explains that the hangar in which the flights are performed was originally built in 1919 for the military. It passed out of military service in 1999, and a think it was acquired by Aeroplume in 2009. It’s one of two locations. The other is in a cave 50 metres underground. Flight cost 60 Euros for half an hour. The company has three such blimps, lifting 90, 70 and 45 kilos respectively. They’re also open over school holiday, which is tempting fate, one feels. Still, they have had tens of thousands of flights and zero casualties. Sibue teaches Scott how to fly the blimp, how temperature affects buoyancy and how helium leaks from the blimp so that they have to replenish it occasionally, as well as problems when the surrounding air seeps in. But it all seems safe, sedate and rather cool.

The balloon was invented in France in the late 18th century and was enthusiastically taken up by scientists and the public. It represented the victory of human scientific ingenuity over nature. And when Napoleon was invading everyone in Europe, one of his schemes was to create a military airship. However, there was no form of artificial propulsion available at the time, so the idea was to have its crew pulling on paddles rather like those on Aeroplume’s blimps.

The blimps strongly remind me of the 19th century airships depicted by some of the early pioneers of Science Fiction, such as Jacques Robida. I think the French novelist and artist would be highly amused by the way his vision has now been realised.

Trailer for UFO Film ‘Above Top Secret’

September 4, 2022

Here’s something that’s a bit more fun. It’s a trailer for the forthcoming UFO movie, Above Top Secret, presented by Dr. Stephen Greer with retired FBI agent John DeSouza alongside aerospace historians and others. The blurb for it on its YouTube page runs

‘We’re at a tipping point in history, the hidden technology that could change everything has been suppressed for decades. Dr. Steven Greer presents mind-blowing information along with never before seen access into the crusade behind disclosure. Retired FBI special agent John Desouza, Aerospace Historians James C, Goodall along with Michael Schratt breakdown the implications of the cover-up, and the false UFO narrative created by the major media. How much does the President of the United States really know about the UFO phenomenon, and the Above Top Secret projects involved with exotic technology? Billy Carson presents the real motivation behind the major media, and the U.S. Military role out of the UAP phenomenon. Multi award filmmakers Blake and Brent Cousins travel across the country to find the real answers to everyone’s questions whether we are alone in the universe, and expose the above top secret projects involved with ET recovered craft not of this world. Is they’re an Alien threat among us, or is the real threat human in nature? Above Top Secret the technology behind disclosure will change the way you think about UFOs, and the world of suppressed technology. Cast: Dr. Steven Greer, James Goodall, John Desouza, Billy Carson, Michael Schratt, Brent Cousins, Blake Cousins.’

The people featured in the trailer claim that the American government and aerospace industry are creating radical new air- and spacecraft using technology taken from crashed UFO, such as that at Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. These have given scientific secrets such as Zero Point energy and gravitics, and that the spacecraft are thought actuated, moving through the ‘thought field’. The American government is also responsible for pushing a non-existent alien threat.

It looks fun, but I’m sceptical of all of this. The title seems to come from Tim Good’s book published in the 1980s, which contained all the conspiracy theory rubbish about alien abductions, the Majestic 12 group of scientists and senior military officers responsible for keeping it all under wraps, whose chief was called His Cerebral Phosphorescence. In short, pretty much the stuff that ended up in the X-Files in the 1990s. Good was, I believe, entirely genuine, but some of the material he published consisted of hoaxes, and misremembered or misidentified incidents. I do believe, however, that there are secret air- and spacecraft that have been developed that very much look and behave like alien spacecraft and are responsible for many UFO sightings.

Labour Left Proposed Motions for the Labour Party Conference

September 4, 2022

The Labour party conference is looming and Arise, the Labour festival of left-wing ideas, has sent these suggested motions out to their supporters so they can propose them to their local constituency parties, in the hope that they’ll accept them and propose them at conference. The email I had and the proposed motions run:

Model Motions Recommended for Labour Party Conference 2022

Hello David

Please find below and online here suggested model motions for Labour Party Conference. The deadline for submissions is Thursday 15 September 2022 at 5pm and the word limit is 250 words. They are on supporting public ownership, defending asylum seekers, supporting a pay rise for workers plus those unions taking industrial action to this end. and speaking up for Palestine.

Best wishes,
The Arise – a Festival of Left Ideas Volunteer Team.

1) Public ownership Motion from the Labour Assembly Against Austerity

Public Ownership is Necessary and Popular
 
Conference notes:
That public ownership is popular with voters, with polling indicating these levels of support:

  • Energy – 66% (Survation, 2022)
  • Water – 69% (Survation, 2022)
  • Royal Mail – 68% (Survation, 2022)
  • Railways – 67% (Survation, 2022)
  • Buses – 65% (Survation, 2022)
  • Social Care – 64% (Survation, 2020)
  • NHS – 84% (YouGov, 2017)

Additionally, 61% of the public think local and central government should try to run services in-house first, before outsourcing (Survation, 2015,) 82% want schools to mostly be run in the public sector (Survation, 2020;) and 63% want utilities to mostly be run in the public sector (Survation, 2020.)

Conference believes:

  • The crisis caused by soaring energy bills and the scandal of raw sewage being dumped into rivers this Summer have highlighted the failures of privatisation in Britain.
  • Private companies are making mega-profits from public services – these vast sums should instead be invested to improve services, to give their workers a pay increase and to lower costs for consumers.
  • That the Tory corruption and outsourcing crises during the pandemic have further illustrated the need for public ownership and democratic control.
  • A clear commitment to extending public ownership of key utilities and public services can be a big vote winner for Labour.

Conference resolves:

  • To oppose further Tory privatisation and outsourcing, including of the NHS, education and council services.
  • To support public ownership of key services and utilities including energy, water, railways, buses, social care, the royal mail and the NHS.

2) Motion on asylum seekers & Rwanda from the Arise Volunteer Team:

Labour should oppose the sending of asylum seekers to Rwanda

Conference notes:

  • the commitment of both candidates in the recent Tory leadership to the unethical, inhumane and racist Tory policy of forcibly sending asylum seekers to Rwanda, and the widely-condemned Nationality and Borders Act (NABA,) with its two tier system of ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ refugees that would prevent some 99 percent of refugees from seeking asylum and its threat to the citizenship of 6 million people in Britain. UNHCR said the Nationality and Borders Bill would “penalise most refugees seeking asylum”.
  • the scale of opposition to the Government’s inhumane treatment of refugees who just want to rebuild their lives here in safety.
  • the decision of the European Court of Human Rights which forced the cancellation of the first scheduled flight on 14 June 2022.
  • Public polling shows increasing support for asylum seekers’ rights, including their right to work.
  • Other disastrous aspects of the ‘hostile environment’ policy over recent years including the Windrush Scandal and the notorious ‘Go Home’ vans.

Conference resolves:

  • For the Labour party to clearly oppose this obscene Tory policy in its entirety as part of campaigning for an end to the ‘hostile environment’ and against racist anti-immigrant narratives, including through a commitment that the next Labour Government will immediately cancel the Rwanda Asylum Scheme.
  • To oppose “no recourse to public funds”, NHS access restrictions and other ‘Hostile Environment’ policies.

3) Pay and backing trade union action motion from the Labour Assembly Against Austerity:

Britain Needs A Pay rise

Conference notes:

Twelve years of the Conservative Government’s low-pay agenda has significantly diminished the real value of people’s incomes with average real wages still below 2008 levels;

The situation is getting worse. Real pay dropped by 4.1% in June compared to the same period last year, with record falls of 3.4% in the private sector and 6.7% in the public sector;

The imposition of significantly below-inflation pay awards which amount to real terms pay cuts;

An increase in trade union campaigning for improved pay awards, from protests to strike ballots and industrial action;

That 76% of people support the view that pay should rise in line with the cost of living (Survation August 2022)

Conference believes:

Below-inflation pay offers will increase poverty and hardship;

That the Government should not impose real terms pay cuts on public sector workers;

It is wrong that many private firms are imposing real terms pay cuts while making big profits, awarding bonuses and large dividend payments;

Recent trade union campaigns, including strike action, have led to numerous enhanced pay awards.

Conference resolves:

To oppose the Conservative Government’s imposition of real terms pay cuts;

To support inflation-proofed increases in pay in both public and private sectors and urgent measures to restore the real value of pay lost under successive Conservative Governments since 2010;

To support a National Minimum Wage of at least £15 an hour.

To support trade union campaigning, including through backing workers taking industrial action, to achieve these aims.

4) Palestine motion from Labour & Palestine / Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Justice for Palestine

Conference strongly condemns:

  • Israel’s renewed bombing of Gaza in August 2022 killing 44 Palestinians, including 15 children, and notes the UN Special rapporteur description of it as an  act contrary to International law. 
  • the Israeli army’s killing of the Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and beating of her coffin bearers by Israeli police.
  • the outlawing of 7 NGOs including Addameer; the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees and Defence for Children International – Palestine.

Conference recognises that these events are illustrative of the conclusions of leading human rights organisations including B’tselem, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International that Israel is committing the crime of apartheid against the Palestinian people, and further erode any possibility of a just solution.

Conference notes policy passed at Labour Party Annual Conferences 2018 ,2019 and 2021 in solidarity with the Palestinian people and against Israel’s ongoing violations of their rights and of international law.

Conference Resolves:

  • To support the application made in April to the International Criminal Court (ICC), calling for an investigation into the Israeli government’s systematic targeting of journalists.
  • To stand in solidarity with all human rights defenders and fully oppose the Israeli government’s attempts to silence them
  • To adhere to an ethical policy on all UK trade with Israel in line with policy passed at previous Conferences, including banning trade with illegal settlements and ending the ongoing arms trade.
  • To oppose fully any UK legislation aimed at preventing legitimate and democratic solidarity actions in support of the Palestinian people.’

These policies are popular and necessary. Among the polls showing public support for renationalising the utilities, I’m massively impressed that 82 per cent want schools to be in public hands. As for the motion on Palestine, it really amazes me how anyone in a genuinely left-wing party could support the closure of quangos devoted to protecting women and children. If ‘100 per cent Zionist’ Starmer supports this, then he’s a depraved monster, utterly unfit to govern any country devoted to humanity and the rule of law. This shows that hardly anybody wants academies or a return to grammar schools, despite the Tories constantly pushing them. I’m going to check with my local constituency party to see if these or similar are among the motions they are going to discuss this Thursday prior to conference. If they aren’t, I will propose them.

This will undoubtedly annoy the Blairites, especially the motion on Palestine. I’ll let you know if they start throwing around any fake accusations of anti-Semitism again.

Explaining Simon Webb: History, Race and the Manipulation of History

August 12, 2022

Several of the great commenters on this blog have questioned why I have put up so many pieces about Simon Webb. Gillyflowerblog in particular asked how anyone, who called himself a socialist, could follow Webb in some of his assertions. It’s a fair question, and deserves an answer. Webb is a Torygraph-reading man of the right. He is staunchly opposed to immigration and multiculturalism, which he regards as destroying traditional British culture. He believes that racial differences in IQ are real and based in genetics, citing scientific papers showing that Black people have more of the genetic markers for schizophrenia than Whites. I’ve no doubt that this is true, but schizophrenia is not intelligence. Furthermore, a greater biological inclination to schizophrenia does not necessarily rule out environmental factors. A mentally vulnerable person may remain psychologically well in the absence of emotional stresses that could drive them over the edge. If there are more Black people needing treatment for psychological problems, it may be because of the particular stresses faced by the Black community, such as poverty, greater unemployment, lower educational and career prospects, racism and the destruction of the Black family and the violent drug gangs operating in many Black communities.

Genetic Basis for Racial IQ Differences Questionable, If Not Disproven

He also believes, almost needless to say, in the bell-curve nonsense, in which Blacks are genetically less intelligent than White, who are genetically not as bright as Asians. In fact Thomas Sowell, who talks favourably about the book, has demolished some of its arguments. There’s no difference in average intelligence between Whites and Asians. The tests that showed it used out of date and biased IQ tests, which skewed the results. However, Asians peoples like the Chinese and Japanese do perform above the level of Whites with the same IQ score. As for Blacks, the average Black IQ is 85, but this is the same or actually better than many White groups when they started IQ testing. Jews, who are now judged one of the most intelligent sections of society, also had the same IQ level, as did various peoples from southern and south-eastern Europe. Their IQs have risen, and so the unspoken implication is that there is no reason why Black IQs shouldn’t. Individual Blacks may score extremely highly. One example is a nine year old Black girl, who had an IQ of 160-80 on one set of tests, and something very close or above 200 on another. Black children raised with White families, such as the mixed race children of German civilians and Black American troopers in the army of occupation after the First World War, had the same IQs as Whites. There are cultural and environmental factors behind the lagging Black IQ, it seems, rather than genes. Although even if there is genetic cause, Black educational performance can still be raised simply by improving teaching methods.

Causes of Economic and Political Crises in African Countries after Independence

Webb has also published videos looking back to a year in the 60s when he claims everybody was talking about repatriation and discussing the decline of South Africa after the abolition of apartheid, and the collapse of Zimbabwe in starvation and dictatorship under Black majority rule. To be fair, this is part of a general trend in African nations after they gain independence. Sowell talks about this in Conquests and Cultures, showing that in all too many cases the economies of the newly independent colonies declines, sometimes catastrophically. This is because the indigenous Africans who take over don’t have the cultural capital and technical skill to run these countries. Sowell has also argued in various videos that the collapse of democracy in many of these nations and their descent into dictatorships is because they haven’t had time during the period of White rule to absorb properly the conqueror’s democratic institutions and traditions. This is probably true, but I’m not sure how much democracy there was in practice when these nations were under the rule of colonial governors. And Webb’s videos on South Africa and Zimbabwe look like nostalgia for White rule and the social order in these countries when Blacks were inferior and knew their place.

He appears also to be a small government Conservative, who says he wouldn’t vote for either Labour or the Conservatives, and laments their supposedly high-spending policies. He is sceptical of the rise of mental illness and the number of people claiming disability for it, presumably feeling, like so many of the right do, that these people should just pull themselves together. Until, of course, it happens to them or the people in their class. Then it’s different.

Webb and Black History

But Webb’s specific focus is on history and debunking what he considers to be historical falsehoods. These are, almost totally, those of Black history. But I do wonder if Webb wasn’t at one time an idealistic anti-racist. I think he’s said that at one time he may have had a Black girlfriend, and among his friends are a number of Black ladies, whom he’s helping home school their children. He’s put up pictures of himself surround by Black children, so I don’t believe he’s racist in his personal relationships. He’s also no anti-Semite, and has posted a number of videos attacking anti-Semitic conspiracy theories such as the lie that the Jews are responsible for mass non-White immigration in order to destroy the White race. One of his most recent videos examines the origins of anti-Semitism. He also defends Israel and its claim to Palestine. He is also not an opponent of Islam as a religion. Another video he posted has as its title the description of Christianity and Islam as two aspects of a single jewel. He states that when he was home schooling his daughter, he took her to various places of worship, including a mosque. All this drives the Nazis and anti-Semites who comment on his videos right up the wall as they call for him to join Patriotic Alternative. Or suggest that he must be Jewish himself, or promoting their propaganda.

As to whatever made him like he is now, I wonder if it was simply the pressure of living in one of the deprived, Black majority areas of London. He seems to know places like Haringey extremely well, talking about how murders were extremely common there at one time as well as the problems caused when one of the local police forces declared they weren’t going to arrest people for cannabis possession. This, he states, resulted in drug dealers running up to people’s cars and banging on the roofs to get attention. If this did happen, along with the other problems of crime and violence, then perhaps seeing the very worst aspects of parts of the Black community eroded all the youthful idealism and anti-racism.

He has published videos denying that some of the great African cultures should properly be regarded as civilisations, because they had no written language, philosophy or science. They are not monuments to Black achievement in his eyes, because very many of them were based on the culture of Arab colonists. And the various histories of Black inventions are riddled with lies and appropriate the scientific achievements of Whites.

Genuinely Great and Forgotten Figures of British Black History

He wasn’t always quite so focused on race. An early video simply discusses the reasons the British shelled their cities during the Second World War. Another video asks whether the Victorians really were all that racist, citing as an example an Indian rajah who became a Tory MP. This could easily be a legitimate part of the Black history activists wish to be taught in schools. Much of this is about rediscovering and reclaiming lost Black historical figures. The classic example is the nurse Mary Seacole, but others include the son of a British planter and a Caribbean slave, who had a glittering political career and ended up as the Lord Lieutenant of one of the Welsh counties. This gentleman was the subject of a BBC Radio 4 programme a few years ago, though I’m afraid I’ve since forgotten his name. But those interested might be able to find him by Googling.

The Great Civilisations of Black Africa

As for Black African civilisations, it’s true that many were culturally influenced from elsewhere. The ancient Sudanese, for example, took over much of ancient Egyptian culture, including the use of hieroglyphs. These people invaded the Land of the Nile several times to claim the throne as pharaohs, before eventually being overthrown in their turn and expelled. They built pyramid monuments for their dead, and were a literate culture. Unfortunately their language was not related to any that have survived today, and there is no Rosetta Stone giving their ancient texts in their language and those which are known, thus allowing the language to deciphered. Scholars are therefore in the frustrating situation of being able to read their inscriptions, but have no idea what they say. We’re faced with a similar situation regarding the ancient civilisation of Meroe, also in that part of Africa.

Many of the great civilisations of Africa were part of the Islamic world. These included Mali in West Africa, and the Swahili in what is now Tanzania. I think their written language was Arabic, in the same way that medieval European civilisations used Latin as the language of religion, government, philosophy, history and science. But that doesn’t detract from their achievements or the sophistication of these cultures. Medieval books from the library of Timbuktu’s madrassa shows that the scholars there were copying and studying scientific texts from the wider Muslim world. One Black historian presenting a programme on Black African civilisation showed such a book. This had a diagram, which she was told showed that Muslims in the region knew that the Earth went round the sun. That’s entirely possible. One of the ancient Greek scholars presented an alternative to the geocentric universe of Ptolemy, in which the Earth did revolve around the sun. But all the other planets still revolved around the Earth. In east Africa, the Amharic, Tigrinya and Tigre languages in Ethiopia are based on the south Arabian language introduced by settlers from that part of Arabia. But even if that part of modern Ethiopian culture isn’t indigenous to the continent, it still doesn’t detract from the achievements of Ethiopian civilisation.

All Civilisations Advance by Borrowing from Each Other

Back again to Thomas Sowell, who states very clearly that cultures across the world borrow from each other. Europeans, for example, adopted gunpowder and paper from China and the numbers system, wrongly called Arabic, from India. Europe was able to rise because of its geography. The east-west nature of the Eurasian landmass meant that inventions in one part of it, such as China or the Middle East, could easily pass to other parts. Thus Europe was able to benefit by adopting and improving on inventions produced by other peoples. Africa lagged behind because it was cut off from the rest of the world by oceans on three sides and the Sahara desert on the north. There were few navigable rivers, so that trade and communication was difficult, unlike in western Europe, where there were many so trade, and hence industrialisation and economic development was easier, along with the passage of ideas and culture. Africa also suffered from highly variable rainfall, which can make agriculture and sailing on the navigable rivers difficult. In some places the soil is unsuited to agriculture, thus making it suitable only as pasturage for nomadic peoples, who are able to move on to better, more fertile land after it becomes exhausted. And the disease environment makes it unsuitable for pack and draught animals, unlike Europe. Goods therefore have to be carried by porters, which is much more expensive than horse or river transport. This also limits the value of goods that may be transported. Because these high costs, only very valuable goods could thus be transported across land. Which probably explains why Africa’s exports tended to be gold, ivory and slaves. Africa was held back, not by any lack of intelligence by its people, but simply because of the isolation created by its physical environment, just as nations and countries elsewhere were similarly aided or held back in their social and economic development by the same geographical factors, even if they were on other continents.

Also, some of the cultures that did not have a written literature could nevertheless be extremely sophisticated. I read somewhere that in one of the African city states, members of it aristocracy would engage in a ceremony in which they would perform a ritual dance accompanied by music. At various intervals they were expected to stop, and point to one of the city’s 17 shrines. If they didn’t point accurately, it would bring disgrace. But Webb is right in that Europeans took some time before they recognised some of the states as civilisations, not just from cultural prejudice but because of the differences between African and European ideas of civilisation. For example, several of the cities Europeans believed were the capitals of these kingdoms weren’t centres of government in the European sense. They were religious centres, which might be abandoned for most of the year.

Falsehoods and Mythmaking in Black History

But if some of his history is wrong or questionable, I think he has a point with others. There are problems with the accuracy of part of Black history writing. This can be seen at some of its most extreme in Afrocentric literature. This can range from claims that are controversial, but which can nevertheless be defended, to racist fabrications. At its heart, Afrocentrism holds that ancient Egypt was a Black civilisation and that it laid the basis for subsequent western culture. It’s a fair question whether the Egyptians were Black. They certainly depicted the men as reddish brown in colour and the women as yellow, in contrast to Europeans, who were painted pink. Herodotus describes them as Black. As for their influence on European culture, Basil Davidson in one his books states that he took the view because this is what the Greeks and Romans believed. On the other hand, the ancient Egyptians also show Caucasian heritage and the Greeks seem to have taken much of their mathematical and scientific knowledge from the ancient near east, and particularly Phrygia in what is now Turkey. However, some Afrocentrists have gone on to argue that ancient Egypt also conquered the rest of Black Africa, where they were responsible for all its peoples’ cultural achievements, and that the original peoples of Britain, China and just about everywhere else were also Black, based on long discredited 19th century White writers.

And there are severe questions about other Black history writing. Webb put up a video last week criticising the claim that the phrase ‘the real McCoy’ was based on a 19th century Black engineer, citing Brewer’s History of Phrase and Fable. I’ve come across the same assertion in a book Black Pioneers of Science and Invention. This also claimed that the refrigerator was also a Black invention and that open heart surgery was invented by a Black doctor over here during the Second World War. This man performed an emergency operation on a man injured during the Blitz. Webb denies that he invented the operation, but states that he was the first to perform it in Britain. Which is still a proud achievement. Not as spectacular as inventing it, but still very impressive.

Mary Seacole – No Nurse, But Pioneering Black Female Entrepreneur

And then there’s the matter of Mary Seacole. For many Blacks, she was a pioneer of modern nursing equal to Florence Nightingale. To her detractors, she was a businesswoman who went to the Crimea to open a hotel for the British officers. She may have done a bit of nursing on the side, but that wasn’t the real purpose of her time there. Webb sides with the latter view, citing her autobiography. And again, I think he’s right. But that doesn’t mean that Seacole should be written off as a lost Black historical heroine. Even if she wasn’t a nurse, she’s still important as an entrepreneur. For Black Conservatives like Sowell, what Blacks need is not state handouts, but to develop the entrepreneurial skills to enable them to allow them to rise economically and socially, as other ethnic groups like the Jews, Chinese, and Japanese have also done. You don’t have to be a Conservative opponent of state aid and the welfare state to adopt such a view. The motion put before Bristol city council the other year by the Labour deputy mayor Asher Craig and Green party councillor Cleo Lake for the payment of reparations for slavery wanted such monies to be given to Black organisations to develop self-reliant and sustainable prosperous Black communities. Which entails encouraging and supporting Black entrepreneurs in those communities.

Invented and Exaggerated History A Response to Continued Racism and Exclusion

In many ways I’m not surprised that various Black writers have made exaggerated claims for Black civilisations and Black inventiveness. They aren’t alone in appropriating great figures from other ethnic groups. Mussolini, for example, claimed that Shakespeare was Italian. Well, some of the Bard’s plays, like Two Gentlemen of Verona and Romeo and Juliet are set in Italy, but I think this may partly reflect the dominance of Italian renaissance culture. Some of the claims about historic Black communities in Britain, which present them as far larger and more numerous than they probably were, seem to me to be an attempt to assert their right to live in this country in the face of still being regarded as somehow foreign and not really belonging. I’ve met Black people, who do feel like that. They were ordinary people with White friends, and not angry radicals. And the promotion of Black cultures and civilisations as sophisticated and advanced seems to me to be partly a reaction to the previous generations of historians and academics, who dismissed them completely. It makes depressing reading going through the book Colour and Colour Prejudice by the last governor of Ghana and seeing one scholar after another make this assertion.

Black Commenters also Against Memorialisation of Violent Thugs as Victims

I also think Webb has a very serious point when he questions some of the assertions and memorialisation of Black persecution. For example, David Olasuga and Reni Edo Lodge were present at a ceremony a few years ago, where a memorial was laid at the docks in memory of Philip Wootton, who was a victim of lynching in the 1919 race riots. Except it seems from contemporary newspaper accounts that Wootton was a violent thug involved in fighting between a group of West Indian, Swedish and Russian sailors. During this a policeman was stabbed several times and there was an attempt to garrotte him. The West Indian gang shot several times at the police after fleeing back to their lodgings. Wootton attempted to escape out the backdoor, but was spotted and pursued by an angry mob towards the docks, where he slipped and fell in. This is very different from the victims of other lynchings, like young men who were killed for having a White girlfriend, or who spoke insolently to a White man.

For some Blacks, violent thugs like Wootton should definitely not be defended or promoted by the Black community. One of the Black American YouTubers got very angry and tearful about the BLM protests last week against the shooting of Tekle Sundberg. Sundberg had had some kind of episode and started shooting through his apartment wall, trying to kill a young mother and her two children. Fortunately the woman and kids were able to flee. The cops turned up and after a six hour stand-off, shot him dead. His adoptive White mother tearfully claimed that it was a racist shooting, as White perps would have had longer to comply. Meanwhile, Black Lives Matter turned up and started a protest to the justifiable fury of Sundberg’s intended victim. The Black YouTuber commenting on this angrily denounced BLM for celebrating criminals like Sundberg. This, he believed, was why everyone else looked down on Blacks.

Checking Reni Edo Lodge about Medical Experimentation on Blacks

As for Reni Edo Lodge, Webb stated that in one of her books she claims that Blacks in Britain were experimented upon and denied medical treatment. This is a serious claim and deserves to be investigated. It did happen in America. I’ve seen YouTube posts about the horrendous experimentation on pregnant Black women by a particular 19th century surgeon. In the ’90s there was outrage when government files released under the Freedom of Information Act showed that the American state had been conducting nuclear experiments on the poor and people of colour with neither their knowledge or consent. In the same decade, the American conspiracy journal, Steamshovel Press, carried an article by one man, who stated that he found Black Americans more likely to believe that AIDS was a germ warfare experiment escaped from Fort Dettrick because of the Tuskegee experiment. This was a nasty medical experiment in which a group of Black sharecroppers were infected with syphilis and denied treatment in order to investigate the disease’s spread. In return their funerals were paid for and their families looked after.

I am not aware that any similar experiments were done over here, apart from the nuclear tests on British servicemen, which wasn’t, I believe, racial. If such experiments didn’t happen, then Lodge is writing fake history. Dangerous fake history – it’s addressed to an audience that already keenly feels that British Blacks have been victimised and persecuted, and such claims only exacerbate such feelings. As if the terrible conditions in many Black communities aren’t bad enough already without inventing even more abuse and discrimination. That’s why I wrote to Lodge’s agent last week requesting Lodge to state where she got these claims from. If she can support them with government documents or properly researched secondary literature, well and good. I’ll support her claims. But if she can’t, then she’s manufacturing false history and in doing so actually making race relations worse.

Conclusion

This is why I’m interested in some of Webb’s videos. History is important, which is why there is so much interest now in Black history. It’s an attempt to recover forgotten Black politicians, nobles, writers and inventors in order to provide role models for contemporary Blacks, in the hope that this will inspire them to do better at school, and in the outside world.

But this has to be good, truthful history, whoever writes it. Otherwise, even if it’s being written with the best of intentions, it’s just propaganda. And that’s wrong, whether done by Whites, Blacks or whoever.

Why Did British Public Opinion Turn Against the Empire?

August 10, 2022

The British empire and its history is once again the topic of intense controversy with claims that its responsible for racism, the continuing poverty and lack of development of Commonwealth nations and calls for the decolonisation of British museums and the educational curriculum. On the internet news page just this morning is a report that Tom Daley has claimed that homophobia is a legacy of the British empire. He has a point, as when the British government was reforming the Jamaican legal code in the late 19th century, one of the clauses they inserted criminalised homosexuality.,

In fact this is just the latest wave of controversy and debate over the empire and its legacy. There were similar debates in the ’90s and in the early years of this century. And the right regularly laments popular hostility to British imperialism. For right-wing commenters like Niall Ferguson and the Black American Conservative economist Thomas Sowell, British imperialism also had positive benefits in spreading democracy, property rights, properly administered law and modern technology and industrial organisation around the world. These are fair points, and it must be said that neither of these two writers ignore the fact that terrible atrocities were committed under British imperialism either. Sowell states that the enforced labour imposed on indigenous Africans was bitterly resented and that casualties among African porters could be extremely high.

But I got the impression that at the level of the Heil, there’s a nostalgia for the empire as something deeply integral to British identity and that hostility or indifference to it counts as a serious lack of patriotism.

But what did turn popular British opinion against the empire, after generations when official attitudes, education and the popular media held it up as something of which Britons should be immensely proud, as extolled in music hall songs, holidays like Empire Day and books like The Baby Patriot’s ABC, looked through a few years ago by one of the Dimblebys on a history programme a few years ago.

T.O. Lloyd in his academic history book, Empire to Welfare State, connects it to a general feeling of self hatred in the early 1970s, directed not just against the empire, but also against businessmen and politicians:

”Further to the left, opinion was even less tolerant; when Heath in 1973 referred to some exploits of adroit businessmen in avoiding tax as ‘the unacceptable face of capitalism’, the phase was taken up and repeated as though he had intended it to apply to the whole of capitalism, which was certainly not what he meant.

‘Perhaps it was surprising that his remark attracted so much attention, for it was not a period in which politicians received much respect. Allowing for the demands of caricature, a good deal of the public mood was caught by the cartoons of Gerald Scarfe, who drew in a style of brilliant distortion which made it impossible to speak well of anyone. The hatred of all men holding authority that was to be seen in his work enabled him to hold up a mirror to his times, and the current of self hatred that ran so close to the surface also matched an important part of his readers’ feelings. Politicians were blamed for not bringing peace, prosperity, and happiness, even though they probably had at this time less power – because of the weakness of the British economy and the relative decline in Britain’s international position – to bring peace and prosperity than they had had earlier in the century; blaming them for this did no good, and made people happier only in the shortest of short runs.

‘A civil was in Nigeria illustrated a good many features of British life, including a hostility to the British Empire which might have made sense while the struggle for colonial freedom was going on but, after decolonization had taken place so quickly and so amicably, felt rather as though people needed something to hate.’ (pp. 420-1).

The Conservative academic historian, Jeremy Black, laments that the positive aspects of British imperialism has been lost in his book The British Empire: A History and a Debate (Farnham: Ashgate 2015):

‘Thus, the multi-faceted nature of the British imperial past and its impact has been largely lost. This was a multi-faceted nature that contributed to the pluralistic character of the empire. Instead, a politics of rejection ensures that the imperial past serves for themes and images as part of an empowerment through real, remembered, or, sometimes, constructed grievance. This approach provides not only the recovery of terrible episodes, but also ready reflexes of anger and newsworthy copy, as with the harsh treatment of rebels, rebel sympathisers , and innocent bystanders in the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya, an issue that took on new energy as demands for compensation were fuelled by revelations of harsh British policy from 2011’. (p. 235).

He also states that there’s a feeling in Britain that the empire, and now the Commonwealth, are largely irrelevant:

‘Similarly, there has been a significant change in tone and content in the discussion of the imperial past in Britain. A sense of irrelevance was captured in the Al Stewart song ‘On the Border’ (1976).

‘On my wall the colours of the map are running

From Africa the winds they talk of changes of coming

In the islands where I grew up

Noting seems the same

It’s just the patterns that remain

An empty shell.’

For most of the public, the Commonwealth has followed the empire into irrelevance. the patriotic glow that accompanied and followed the Falklands War in 1982, a war fought to regain a part of the empire inhabited by settlers of British descent, was essentially nationalistic, not imperial. This glow was not matched for the most recent, and very different, conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. These have led to a marked disinclination for further expeditionary warfare’. (pp. 421-2).

In fact the whole of the last chapter of Black’s book is about changing attitudes to the empire and the imperial past, which Black feels has been distorted. The British empire is seen through the lens of atrocities, although its rule was less harsh than the Germans or Italians. In India the view is coloured by the Amritsar massacre and ignores the long periods of peace imposed by British rule in India. He also notes that the cultural and international dominance of America has also affected British ideas of exceptionalism, distinctiveness and pride, and that interest in America has superseded interest in the other countries of the former empire.

Attitudes to the empire have also changed as Britain has become more multicultural., and states that ‘increasingly multicultural Britain sees myriad tensions and alliance in which place, ethnicity, religion, class and other factors both class and coexist. This is not an easy background for a positive depiction of the imperial past’ (p. 239). He also mentions the Parekh Report of the Commission on the Future Multi-Ethnic Britain, which ‘pressed for a sense of heritage adapted to the views of recent immigrants. This aspect of the report’ he writes, ‘very much attracted comment. At times, the consequences were somewhat fanciful and there was disproportionate emphasis both on a multi-ethnic legacy and on a positive account of it’. (p. 239). Hence the concern to rename monuments and streets connected with the imperial past, as well as making museums and other parts of the heritage sector more accessible to Black and Asians visitors and representative of their experience.

I wonder how far this lack of interest in the Commonwealth goes, at least in the immediate present following the Commonwealth games. There’s talk on the Beeb and elsewhere that it has inspired a new interest and optimism about it. And my guess is that much of popular hostility to the empire probably comes from the sympathy from parts of the British public for the various independence movements and horror at the brutality with which the government attempted to suppress some of them,, like the Mau Mau in Kenya. But it also seems to me that a powerful influence has also been the psychological link between its dissolution and general British decline, and its replacement in British popular consciousness by America. And Black and Asian immigration has also played a role. I’ve a very strong impression that some anti-imperial sentiment comes from the battles against real racism in the 1970s and 1980s. One of the Fascist organisations that founded the National Front in the 1960s was the League of Empire Loyalists.

This popular critique on British imperialism was a part of the ‘Nemesis the Warlock’ strip in 2000AD. This was about a future in which Earth had become the centre of a brutally racist, genocidal galactic empire ruled by a quasi-religious order, the Terminators. They, and their leader, Torquemada, were based on the writer’s own experience as a pupil of an abusive teacher at a Roman Catholic school. The Terminators wore armour, and the title of their leader, grand master, recalls the crusading orders like the Knights Templars in the Middle Ages. One of the stories mentions a book, published by the Terminators to justify their cleansing of the galaxy’s aliens, Our Empire Story. Which is the title of a real book that glamorised the British empire. Elsewhere the strip described Torquemada as ‘the supreme Fascist’ and there were explicit comparisons and links between him, Hitler, extreme right-wing Tory politicos like Enoch Powell, and US generals responsible for the atrocities against the Amerindians. It’s a good question whether strips like ‘Nemesis’ shape public opinion or simply follow it. I think they may well do a bit of both.

But it seems to me that, rather than being a recent phenomenon, a popular hostility to the British empire has been around since the 1970s and that recent, radical attacks on imperial history and its legacy are in many cases simply an extension of this, rather than anything completely new.

Stop the War Coalition Newsletter on NATO in Afghanistan and Trade Union Organising against the War in Ukraine

August 5, 2022

Just now I got the latest email newsletter from the Stop the War Coalition, notifying its readers of the organisation’s forthcoming events. One will be an evening with veteran civil rights campaigner, author and broadcaster Tariq Ali about the consequences of forty years of war in Afghanistan, including NATO’s occupation of the country. They are also organising a conference for trades unionists next year and encouraging members of the unions to affiliate their unions and their local branches to them. And, of course, they also appeal for people to join them. The email runs

NATO’s Legacy in Afghanistan

Afghanistan has been abandoned by the international community following the events of 2021 when the 20-year NATO occupation of Afghanistan came to an end.

It seems the only thing the West now has to offer Afghanistan is extrajudicial killings. After the appalling Panorama revelations of a ‘campaign of terror’ by British special forces during the occupation comes the assassination of Ayman al Zawahiri. Quite simply, such attacks are war crimes and do nothing to “make us safer” as Joe Biden stated this week.

With the Taliban back in power and stronger than it was in 2001, NATO’s occupation has been an outright failure. From the lies of installing democracy to improving quality of life to liberating women, the War on Terror did nothing but cause death and destruction.

The country is home to one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, as 90% of the population live below the poverty line. The country’s economy is at a standstill as sanctions cripple the nation.

One year on from the end of the occupation, join us for an evening with Tariq Ali – writer, film-maker and author of The Forty Year War in Afghanistan: A Chronicle Foretold – as he takes a look at the current state of the country and the myths surrounding the Western occupation.

Register Here – Free & Open to All!

The World at War: A Trade Union Issue
Stop the War Trade Union Conference 2023

We have called our first ever trade union conference because we believe that it is always working people who are the first victims of war and that the record sums being spent on arms and the military should be redirected to public services, to the NHS, social care and our crumbling schools. We believe that the slogan ‘cut warfare not welfare’ should be taken up by the whole of the trade union movement.

The conference is open to all trade unionists. We urge you to register but also to spread the word in your branches and trades councils.

We have called our first ever trade union conference because we believe that it is always working people who are the first victims of war and that the record sums being spent on arms and the military should be redirected to public services, to the NHS, social care and our crumbling schools. We believe that the slogan ‘cut warfare not welfare’ should be taken up by the whole of the trade union movement.

Register Now

head of the conference, we’re asking all trade unionists who support Stop the War to affiliate to us. By affiliating your branch or region you can ensure that our movement will continue to campaign against the British government’s war policies. We receive no grants from governments or financial backing from commercial backers.

It is only because of individuals and organisations like yours that we are able to continue to build the anti-war movement so that future generations may live in a more peaceful world.

Affiliate to Stop the War Today

Be Part of a Growing Movement Against War

This week our Vice President and founder member Jeremy Corbyn has once again come under fire for standing up for peace. He said in relation to the war in Ukraine that…

“Pouring arms in isn’t going to bring about a solution, it’s only going to prolong and exaggerate this war…This war is disastrous for the people of Ukraine, for the people of Russia, and for the safety and security of the whole world, and therefore there has to be much more effort put into peace.”

He’s right. And we must further his call for peace and negotiation.

One small way to help us intensify our campaign against the warmongers is by becoming a member.

As a small incentive for doing so, we are offering a special discount for members on our merchandise. You also get a free ‘Drop Beats Not Bombs’ tote bag when you join.

We do understand that these are difficult times and we are only asking you to support us if you can. Membership costs as little as £2. We hope you will consider joining.

Become a Stop the War Member Today

Ali’s interesting. Apparently the Stones’ ‘Street Fighting Man’, written during the wave of sixties radicalism, is all about him. I read in one of the papers that apparently when he was a little boy, he had an aunt knit him a jumper with Stalin’s head on. This was presumably before people knew what a monster Stalin was, when his sycophants were falling over themselves to declare him the grreat saviour of the international working class and progressive humanity. He had his own Black interest programme on satellite or cable television, or at least he did. And a few decades ago he published an anthology of classic texts from the golden age of Islam to show to young Muslims how enlightened and tolerant Islam had been, as against the intolerance and bigotry of the Islamists. He’s very careful about history. On one of his shows, he pointed out that during the period of racist lynchings in America, more Italians were murdered in Louisiana than Blacks. This surprised me, because I thought it was only Blacks who were being murdered by these mobs. But I’ve no doubt that it’s true.

Afghanistan is, like Iraq, a country where the real reason for the invasion has nothing to do with combatting terrorism or installing democracy. It was about oil. The American oil industry and Republican administration was negotiating for an oil pipeline with the Taliban. When the Taliban stalled, the policymakers took the decision to hold back until there was some kind of crisis which they could use. This would provide a pretext to invade the country and build the pipeline anyway, without the Taliban’s consent. This came with 9/11 and the al-Qaeda attack.

Biography of Cross-dressing 19th Century Surgeon Dr James Barry

August 2, 2022

This might interest people interested in women’s history and the history of people, who’d now be identified as trans. I got the new Postscript catalogue through the post today. One of the books featured was The Secret Life of Dr James Barry: Victorian England’s Most Eminent Surgeon, by Rachel Holmes (Bloomsbury), £.12.99.:The blurb for this runs

‘In life, James Barry (c.1769-1865) was celebrated as a military surgeon throughout the British Empire; on his death, he was found to have been biologically a woman. In this reissue of her 2002 biography Rachel Holmes suggests that Barry – born Margaret Bulkley – was non-binary, before exploring his relationship with Lord Somerset and how his innovative approach to subjects including hygiene and diet saved thousands of lives’.

Barry seems to me to be one of a number of women, who took on a male identity in order to escape from the constraints of the contemporary female role in order to pursue a masculine career, rather like the 18th century female marine, Hannah Snell, another woman who pretended to be a man in order to pursue a military career in the navy, taking part n the attack on Pondicherry.. This woman, however, eventually married her male sweetheart and settled down to civilian life running a pub in Wapping, though she still continued wearing male clothes.

Brexiteer Michael Heaver Reveals Reclaim Party’s Exciting Warmed-Up Tory Leftovers Policies

July 26, 2022

Michael Heaver’s another right-wing, Brexiteer YouTuber. Most of his content seems to be about how wonderful Brexit it, or would be, if it wasn’t for those evil whining remoaners and the European Union trying to sabotage it all the time. He seems to have gone from the Tories to backing the Reclaim party, as well as wanting the return of Johnson. Today he put up a piece revealing Reclaim’s new, (ahem, cough, cough) policies. Laurence Fox’s party will be fielding 600 candidates, which, if true, is definitely a challenge to the Tories and the other established parties. Their policies are:

Do Brexit properly.

Net Zero immigration.

Cut taxes.

I think there’s also something about getting rid of the Green agenda. And I also think they want to support Johnson’s return to power, because the other Tory leadership candidates are so terrible and will hand the government over to Starmer. Or such is the fear amongst some Tories.

This is hogwash. Let’s go through them.

Do Brexit properly: Can’t be done. Uh-huh, no way. It’s simply impossible, like squaring the circle or redefining PI as equalling four, which is what the Nebraska legislature did way back in the 19th century. If this had gone ahead, it would have meant that clocks would have gained fifteen minutes everyone hour. But like ‘Get Brexit done’ it makes a good slogan. You can’t enact Brexit without reneging on one of the key policies of the Good Friday Agreement, which was an open border with the Republic. It’s either that, or the Irish backstop in the middle of the sea, thus alienating the Loyalists. Johnson got into power claiming that he’d ‘get Brexit done’. Well, he did, and it’s been chaos. Britain’s trade with the EU has taken a massive hit, there are real threats to British industry and agriculture, the financial sector the Tories and Blairites have been so keen to protect and establish London as a international hub has also been threatened. By Brexiteer Tories, like Jacob Rees-Mogg, who moved his investment business across the briny to Dublin. All while he was telling the rest of us that Brexit would be A Very Good Thing Indeed. There were delays at Dover months or even years ago because of the additional red tape added to hauliers and other travellers going to the continent now that we were no longer part of the EU. That red tape is also damaging our music industry, as it’s made it extremely difficult for British musicians and performers to travel over there to perform.

We were told that the Tories had an ‘oven ready deal’ with Europe for Brexit.

We were told that the millions saved on our EU contributions would be spent on the NHS.

We were lied to.

And this, as the late, great Max Headroom used to say, is simply ‘more of the same’. Except that he was talking about epic, rocking 80s pop music and videos.

Net zero immigration. More red meat for the Tory faithful, and other sections of the population worried about immigration. Mostly non-White immigration. And there are real moral and practical problems with that. Firstly, there’s the moral question of denying asylum to people, who may very well be in real danger of persecution in their countries of origin. I think many of the prospective migrants properly are coming here for economic reasons. One former channel migrant was interviewed on GB News or Talk TV, and he said that most of the other immigrants he was with were trying to dodge military service in their home countries and hoped to settle so that they could bring their families over. I can’t say I entirely blame them for wanting to do so, especially when these countries are dirt-poor, corrupt dictatorships like Eritrea. But nevertheless, I think there are people trying to get here because they face real threats to their lives for their views or simply because of their ethnicity or religion. Gay people around the world face persecution, particularly in Africa. Go back a few years, and there were the Yezidis, whose women were raped and enslaved for sex by ISIS. Last year there were Afghans desperate to escape the Taliban takeover. And in the past few months Britain and other European nations have taken in refugees from Ukraine, escaping Putin’s genocidal onslaught. I don’t see how you can morally turn at least some of these away.

Then there’s the economic aspect. As Buddyhell over on Guy Debord’s Cat, and just about everyone else on the web has point out, Britain needs immigrant doctors, nurses and other workers for the NHS. Yes, we should be training our own. But we haven’t been doing so ever since one of the Tory ministers – I think it may even have been Enoch Powell – decided in the 1960s to solve the shortage of NHS doctors by encouraging them to come from Pakistan and India. I can’t see the Tories wanting to spend the money to pay for the proper training for doctors and other medical professionals. Not when they seem content to drive them away by not paying them what they deserve and overburdening them with work and paperwork.

People also immigrate to Britain and settle down and raise families as part of their work. I know a number of people, who came to this country to work, and particularly on ground-breaking scientific or engineering projects. This country is short of scientists, engineers and skilled technicians. These are precisely the type of people we should be encouraging to come here, if only so that they can pass these skills on to Brits.

Education is a major part of this. There’s a movement of academics, both teaching staff and students, between countries and across continents. Most university’s, I’d say, have international students, some of whom are going to try to settle down here. Academics also take up posts at universities and colleges right across the world. When I was studying archaeology at Bristol, several of the department staff were foreign. One was Portuguese while another was German, for example. At the same time, archaeological work takes people right across the globe. At the time I was there, there was great excitement about Neolithic discoveries in Ukraine. One of the lecturers had also helped carry out excavations of archaic homo sapiens remains in Romania. Another leading member of the department had also been excavating in Iran. Some of these academics will no doubt wish to settle down and make their home here. Either way, I can see Brexit and a zero-net immigration policy causing real problems with universities obtaining needed foreign academic staff.

And it’s going to be hypocritical. The Tories have, in my recollection, shown themselves perfectly willing to grant British citizenship to anyone rich enough. Just as Rishi Sunak got his green card to work in America by paying a million dollars. I strongly suspect that if Reclaim got in, we’d have more of the same. It would be easy immigration for the global super-rich, and keep out for everyone else.

Cutting taxes: More of the twaddle you’ve been hearing from the Tory leadership candidates. What this means is cutting taxes for the rich while passing the burden on to ordinary people at the bottom. This is supposed to encourage more investment, and hence more jobs. Balderdash. The money saved simply rests in the elite’s bank accounts. Meanwhile, because there’s less money going into the exchequer, the Tories and Reclaim after them will tell us all that cuts need to be made, more pushing of the mythical NHS waste, profligate spending on the welfare state, too many civil servants and so on. The result, more punitive cuts to the NHS, more destruction of the welfare state, more people struggling to survive on food banks, more starvation, malnutrition and grinding poverty.

Attacking the Green Agenda: The scientific consensus supports climate change, and the Green New Deal promises more jobs as well as combating threats to the environment. But the right don’t believe in climate change, and, with money coming in from Big Oil, they really don’t want to end our dependence on fossil fuels any time soon. All last week while the rest of us sweltered they told us that the rising heat was nothing to worry about, was not cause by global warming, and we were all wimps and weaklings for thinking otherwise. I wonder if Reclaim and its bosses also have their places booked for the biodomes the rich will no doubt retreat into as the deserts march on London, Birmingham and anywhere else.

Bring back Johnson: Really? There are people who really won’t be told. There’s a petition up for his return. Just like there are Americans who want the return of Trump. That’s incredible. Aside from the party politics, Trump was a disastrous president. A friend lent me a book on his presidency, and what came across most strongly was how incompetent he was. He quarraled with his leading generals, one of whom actually swore at him while telling him precisely what he was in the White House. He made up policies on the spur of the moment and then changed his mind just as suddenly. Appointments were made with important visitors, but not kept. Or he didn’t tell his staff about them, just forgot them. He deliberately undermined leading White House staff, replacing them and then doing the same to the new replacements, all of whom were determined to undermine their predecessors and competitors. And rather than draining the swamp, Trump was massively corrupt giving government contracts to friends and anybody else, including the Russians, who were prepared to stump up cash. Government monies that were intended to protect workers on bread and butter issues like pensions vanished in various politicos pockets, where they gave it to their favourite businessmen.

Johnson has been similarly incompetent. He was grotesquely tactless and incompetent as foreign secretary. Once he got his behind in No. 10 he showed himself unwilling to knuckle down and do some actual work. It seemed that every few weeks he was heading off to Chequers for a holiday. He caught Covid because he personally broke lockdown rules. And he gave valuable PPE contracts to his friends and other Tory donors. The result was problems with supply. But no worries, eh? His mates were all right. The parties were just a symptom of a man, who doesn’t like to work, loves the power and the popularity that comes with it, at least in his own imagination, and really, really, has zero sympathy with ordinary working people and their problems.

And he’s still clinging on to power, just like Gordon Brown tried to do with a deal with the Lib Dems after he lost the election to Cameron. Ian Hislop got very excited about this on Have I Got News For You, calling him ‘Mr Barnacle’. Well, Johnson is behaving exactly like the marine mollusc, and the same should apply: ‘get ye gone!’ It says something about the effectiveness of establishment propaganda that someone really thinks he’s done such a good job they want to keep him in power.

But back to the Reclaim party, there’s nothing new here. It’s just the same old Brexiteer Tory policies, promoted by a few new faces. And I honestly can’t see many of them getting a seat. Some might, but I foresee a lot of lost deposits, compounded with them splitting the Tory vote in certain quarters so that a Lib Dem or possibly Labour candidate get in.

I have a feeling they’ll go the way of UKIP and the Brexit party as another right-wing group trying to ‘break the mould of British politics’.

Decoy Voice Asks: Why Are the Chinese Making a Robot that Eats People?

July 12, 2022

And now for something a bit lighter, if by ‘lighter’ you mean people designing and building the type of machines that really could bring about the robot revolt. Decoy Voice is, I think, a Chinese-American YouTuber. In the video below, he comments on the way the Chinese seem to have revived their old EATER robot programme. This was an attempt to build a robot that could go on powering itself through consuming biomass. It was cancelled a few years ago, presumably because it worried too many people by designing machines that would eat plants and presumably animals instead of running on electricity. But now the Chinese have released footage of some kind of robot vehicle with a scoop at the front, appearing to scoop up a bewildered looking chap lying just in front of it. This looks like they’ve revived the EATER programme, and this poor fellow was intended to show how it could also consume biomass. Or, as they are more usually known, people.

Decoy Voice compares this with Boston Dynamics Spot robot dog, seen in multiple videos doing everything from press-ups to dancing. Except that it was designed for military use and can carry a proper military gun turret, as well as the robotic arm it can also be equipped with. The Chinese have used it to police the Covid lockdown. The Hawaiian cops were using to keep an eye on vagrants and the rozzers in New York also used them to patrol certain districts. Except one of these American forces had to stop using them as they made the residents nervous.

Along the way, Decoy Voice comments on how his channel seems to be followed by any number of Chinese bots. He’s suddenly acquired a following of young and beautiful Chinese ladies, all with their own personal trainers, glamorous lifestyle and internet monickers ending in the numbers 12345. Oh yes, and despite clearly being young, attractive and rich, they only have five internet followers each. Decoy Voice jokes that this would be more credible if he was also stunningly handsome, and demonstrates how he would have to use various photoshop-style picture techniques to make himself look like a Hollywood hunk.

It’s a great video, but there’s a very serious point to this. Scientists are worried about the development of sentient AI operated war machines. Kevin Warwick, the head of cybernetics at Reading University, was so worried because he was genuinely afraid that the machines really would take over. By 2050, he predicted in his book, March of the Machines, most of humanity will have been killed off. Only a tiny remnant would remain as the neutered slaves of the robots, or as scattered free people living in terrain to hostile for machines. Both Ukraine and Russia are using military robots, those are, they say, under human control and will be only be used to transport military equipment to human troops. The British army has launched a recruiting video with the slogan that only human squaddies can do things that robots can’t. Well, part of his is that robots don’t have the moral judgement of humans. Warwick gives the example in his book how a robot fire extinguisher in his department could be turned into such a war machine. All you have to do is change the fire extinguisher the robot carries for a gun, teach its computer network to target people with blue eyes and blond hair, and set it loose. It would then carry on shooting people with that complexion and eye colour until it ran out of bullets, not distinguishing between soldier and civilian, those who have surrendered and active combatants.

There’s a very old science fiction story I remember reading when I was 13. It was called ‘Flying Dutchman’ and it was about a robot bomber plane, that is automatically reloaded and refuelled to carry on its mission. But no humans are mentioned in the story, either as operators, soldiers, civilians or victims. None at all. I think the story’s implied message is that all the humans have been killed, but the machines don’t realise it. They just keep following their programmes and carry on fighting a war that has effectively ended long ago with the death of the human race.

I like robots. I’m fascinated by them. But I also recognise that there are dangers and moral and social problems connected with them. And that some of the people manufacturing the military robots should have read and watched a few good Science Fiction stories. Dr Who’s ‘The War Machines’ and ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ would have been a good start. or The Terminator, and Karel Capek’s Rossum’s Universal Robots.

Or the grandmother of them all, Mary Shelley and Frankenstein.

Is Shinzo Abe’s Assassin a Conspiracy Nutter?

July 8, 2022

I was shocked by the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Nara today. As they pointed out on the news, Japan has very strict gun laws, and a very low level of gun crime. This explains why his wretched assassin made his own. But I do wonder about the assassin’s motives for the murder. It was reported earlier today that the gunman, a former sailor in the Japanese navy, didn’t have a political grudge against Abe. But they said on the news this evening that he thought Abe was a member of a particular organisation, and it wasn’t known if this organisation actually existed.

Hmmm.

This sounds like the gunman was a conspiracy theorist in the pejorative sense, like the western nutters who believe that the Illuminati are behind everything evil in the world. Or the globalists. Or the Freemasons and/or the Jews. In the 1990s there were reports that there was a nasty wave of anti-Semitism sweeping Japan, and that the country had more anti-Semites than many other countries, even though it had no Jews. One the country’s big industrialists apparently said that the reason America dropped the two nuclear bombs that destroyed Nagasaki and Hiroshima, but didn’t use them against Germany, was all because of the Jews. It’s pure nonsense. There are two competing explanations for the bombings. One is that after Germany’s surrender, the American high command wished to end the war as quickly as possible. Simply fighting their way island by island across the Pacific until they reached the Japanese mainland would have taken weeks and cost the lives of even more American servicemen. Another theory is that the Americans wanted to send out a message, not to the Japanese, but to Stalin. The Russians hold the Kuril Islands north of Japan, and it seems to me that if this theory is right, then they were afraid the Russians were going to move south and occupy Japan, just as they had liberated and then occupied eastern Europe. As for the origins of the anti-Jewish hatred in the 90s, Lobster wondered if it was a result of American foreign financial policy. I think the Americans had tried to force some financial deal on the Japanese at the behest of their own bankers, and this had disrupted the Japanese economy or its financial sector. It’s possible the gunman believed that Abe was somehow involved in some kind of secret Jewish conspiracy. On the other hand, Abe himself was clearly Japanese, not Jewish, so the assassin may have believed that he was a member of the Illuminati or globalists without the anti-Semitic elements in the theory. Perhaps more information about the killer and his motives will come out later.

Whatever the killer’s motive, a leading Japanese politician has been killed and the country’s people are shock. I deeply sympathise with them in this hour, and wish them all the best following this act of terror.